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Oprah reveals the real reason she resigned from WeightWatchers

Oprah Winfrey poses in purple cowl neck gown on the 2024 Golden Globes carpet
Oprah Winfrey will sit down with medical experts and patients to discuss the use and impact of prescription weight-loss drugs like Ozempic in a new ABC special. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Oprah Winfrey has revealed why she left her nearly 10-year post as a WeightWatchers board member last month.

Her resignation was motivated by her work on an upcoming TV special on the rise of prescription weight-loss drugs, she said during a Thursday appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

“An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution” airs Monday on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu. During the broadcast, filmed in front of a live studio audience, the 70-year-old media mogul will sit down with medical experts and patients to discuss prescription weight-loss drugs, including Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy.

“I decided that because this special was really important to me and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about, and WeightWatchers is now in the business of being a weight health company that also administers drug medications for weight, I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest,” Winfrey told Kimmel.

Winfrey added that she donated her company shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture “so nobody can say, ‘Oh, she’s doing that special, she’s making money.’”

Read more: This week on Oprah: An icon's legacy, weight-loss rumors, caresses from Drew B. and a Smithsonian portrait

In December, Winfrey disclosed to People that she had been using an unspecified weight-loss drug in tandem with lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy weight.

“The fact that there’s a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift,” she said in the cover story. “I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing.”

Up until then, Winfrey said she’d been tied to the idea that maintaining a healthy weight was a matter of sheer willpower.

She told Kimmel on Thursday that following double knee surgery in 2021, she promised God she would get in shape if he helped her walk again. She ate well, gritting her teeth as she slowly worked her way up from a few daily steps to a two-hour mile, she said.

“I felt like I had to do it my way, and had to prove that I could do it on my own even though I was hearing all along people talking about the medications,” she told the talk show host.

Throughout her decades-long career, Winfrey said, “I’ve been in the storm of losing the weight, gaining it back, losing the weight, gaining it back. And what I realized when I listened to what the doctor said, that you are always going to put it back on, and it’s like holding your breath under water and trying not to rise. You are always going to rise.”

Read more: New weight-loss drugs are out of reach for millions of older Americans because Medicare won't pay

In addition to the science behind obesity, the special will address the granular details of prescription weight-loss medications: who they're intended for, their short-term and long-term side effects and why nobody wants to talk about them.

“It is a very personal topic for me and for the hundreds of millions of people impacted around the globe who have for years struggled with weight and obesity,” Winfrey said in a statement about the prime-time event. “This special will bring together medical experts, leaders in the space and people in the day-to-day struggle to talk about health equity and obesity with the intention to ultimately release the shame, judgment and stigma surrounding weight.”

“For the first time in history, new drugs could prove to be the game changer to stem the tide of people living with obesity, an epidemic which has grown exponentially since the 1970s, costing $173 billion per year in medical costs in the United States alone,” the network said in the statement.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.